Increased Risk Of Infections
Perhaps the most awful symptom of gestational diabetes is that you might experience frequent pregnancy infections.
And Im not referring to mild infections like flu.
Im talking about serious stuff such as Candida, a yeast infection that affects the vagina. Sadly, almost 75% women suffer from Candida at least once in their life, per a 2016 study.
Many studies link high risk of yeast infection to uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
Diabetes makes your immune system weak and provides a clear path for germs invasion. Candida causes immense pain, dryness, curd-like vaginal discharge, and pain during intercourse.
Additionally, as youre frequently thirsty during pregnancy, the dehydrated body can further facilitate yeast infections.
If you keep having thrush or yeast infections during pregnancy, you may want to get your blood sugar checked as it could be a warning symptom of gestational diabetes.
Can You Prevent Diabetes During Pregnancy
Gestational diabetes cannot always be prevented however, obesity is a prime determinant for developing the disease. Maintaining a healthy weight and following a good nutritional plan both before and during pregnancy can decrease your chances of developing gestational diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight can also decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes following pregnancy.
Gestational Diabetes And Pregnancy
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is first seen in a pregnant woman who did not have diabetes before she was pregnant. Some women have more than one pregnancy affected by gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually shows up in the middle of pregnancy. Doctors most often test for it between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Often gestational diabetes can be controlled through eating healthy foods and regular exercise. Sometimes a woman with gestational diabetes must also take insulin.
Gestational Diabetes Test: Tips To Pass
If youre allowed to eat before, make sure you avoid CARBS and SUGAR. Any added carbs or sugar could throw off your results. Stick to protein, dairy, and veggies the day of your test. Thats really all you need to do to make sure you get accurate results.
I craved only sugar and carbs my whole pregnancy, so when I was told that I shouldnt eat those the day of the test, I thought, ok, what in the world should I eat then? ?I ended up eating an omelet with cheese and veggies for breakfast, and some meat and potatoes for lunch. I passed the test just fine!
Gestational Diabetes Test: The Aftermath
Like I said earlier, some women struggle to keep the drink down. This is rarer though- youll probably keep it down just fine. But that doesnt mean you wont have side effects!
I felt pretty shaky and had a pretty crazy sugar rush for a couple of hours. You may feel a little sick or nauseous after drinking it. Dont feel bad if you need to take some time off! Either way, the side effects arent too bad and youll feel better in no time.
After you get your blood drawn and the test is over, youll typically hear your results in a couple of days. More likely than not, youre all clear!
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What Happens After My Baby Is Born
You may not need to have blood tests to check your blood sugar while youre in the hospital after your baby is born. However, it may be several weeks after your babys birth before your gestational diabetes goes away. To make sure it has gone away, your doctor will ask you to have a special blood test 1 or 2 months after you have your baby.
Who Is Most At Risk For Gestational Diabetes
While researchers aren’t certain why some women get gestational diabetes while others dont, they do know that you may be at an increased risk if:
In the U.S., about 90 percent of pregnant women have at least one risk factor for gestational diabetes, which is why universal screening is thought to be the most practical approach.
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H Shares What A Typical Day Looked Like For Her During Her Pregnancy
Id wake up and immediately test my blood glucose levels they call that a fasted test. Then Id have breakfast, before getting ready for work. I had to test my blood glucose levels an hour after every main meal, , so I actually had to start waking up earlier to make sure I was still at home an hour after eating breakfast to test otherwise Id have to do it on my commute, which is a bit awkward.At work Id have morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. I had to test my blood glucose levels after lunch, and all my meals had to be at reasonably specific times to make sure my carb intake was spread out evenly throughout the day. At first it was a little difficult to make sure I always ate and did the finger prick test at the right time it can be hard when youre in meetings most of the day.
Id walk home and have dinner. I would then have to test my blood glucose levels an hour later. I would often have supper and then give myself insulin before bed.
What Are Ways To Treat And Prevent Gestational Diabetes
Your doctor will perform screening tests to quantify the amount of blood sugar circulating in your blood. If results indicate that you have gestational diabetes, your doctor will prescribe dietary changes so that you avoid foods that tend to cause blood sugar spikes. Physical activity is another great way to manage your blood sugar since exercise helps improve the metabolic processes of your body. If your blood sugar remains high, your doctor may prescribe medications and insulin to regulate it.
As for prevention, most women benefit from a healthy diet and regular physical activities. If youre planning to have a child soon, you should also maintain a healthy weight before trying to conceive.
What You Can Do To Prevent Gestational Diabetes
If your only risk factors for gestational diabetes are a family history of the disease and/or advanced maternal age, there may be nothing more you can do to prevent your chances of developing the condition.
But if you’re overweight, don’t eat a well-balanced diet or don’t routinely exercise, adopting a few healthy habits can make a big difference.
The following steps can have a big impact on reducing your risk of developing both gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes, both before you conceive and during your pregnancy:
Signs And Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes
Most pregnant women dont experience signs or symptoms of gestational diabetes. In fact, the only way to know is with a blood sugar test, typically given around 24 to 28 weeks gestation.
A few women may notice subtle signs and symptoms of gestational diabetes, including:
- Increased thirst. Drinking more than normal and feeling like youre always thirsty may be a sign of gestational diabetes.
- Fatigue. Pregnant women are tired, after all its a lot of work to grow and support a baby! However, gestational diabetes can make you feel even more tired than normal.
- Dry mouth. A parched mouth despite drinking a lot can be another sign of gestational diabetes.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Im pregnant. Am I at risk for gestational diabetes?
- Is screening for gestational diabetes a standard part of my prenatal care?
- What tests do I need?
- Does gestational diabetes put my baby at risk for any health problems?
- Can I control gestational diabetes through lifestyle changes alone?
- What changes should I make to my diet and exercise?
- Will I need insulin? For how long?
- What follow-up tests or care will I need after I deliver my baby?
How Is Gestational Diabetes Treated
Fortunately, you can eliminate virtually all of the potential risks associated with diabetes in pregnancy by carefully controlling your blood sugar levels.
If youre diagnosed with GDM, doctors and researchers recommend the following:
- Monitor your blood sugar level several times a day. Check first thing in the morning to get your fasting rate and then an hour after you eat each meal to make sure your blood sugar stays in a healthy range . Most doctors suggest that you buy a diabetes kit, which includes needles to prick your finger and a little machine that reads your blood sugar. Dont worry, the finger prick doesnt hurt, and its the most accurate way to tell how your body is processing various foods. Its empowering when you make healthy food choices and your blood sugar reading is good youre taking an active role in your own health .
- Meet with a registered dietitian. She can help you review healthy food options and make a meal plan. Many women stick to their gestational diabetes diet of well-balanced meals long after birth.
- Keep a food log. After each meal, write down everything you ate along with your blood glucose number. This helps you to better understand what foods are spiking your glucose levels so you can avoid them.
- Get moving. Go for a walk or take the stairs after a meal to lower your glucose levels.
Supplementary insulin can be given in shots, though the oral drug glyburide is being prescribed more and more often for GDM.
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What Is Gestational Diabetes Mellitus
Gestational diabetes mellitus is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born. About 12-14% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes mellitus.
During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that help the baby grow and develop. These hormones also block the action of the womans insulin. This is called insulin resistance. When the body cannot cope with the extra demand for insulin production it results in high blood glucose levels and gestational diabetes.
What Happens Once Youre Diagnosed With Gestational Diabetes
Its important that blood glucose levels are controlled during pregnancy to reduce long-term effects for mother and baby.
A monitor is used to check glucose levels, usually each morning and 1-2 hours after each main meal. Stephs GP taught her how to monitor her blood glucose levels using a finger prick test. I tested first thing every morning and then an hour after each main meal, says Steph. At first, I was told just to record what I ate and what my blood glucose levels were, and not worry too much about the numbers.
A team of health care providers will help manage GDM and an Accredited Practicing Dietitian will be able to provide information on what to eat and physical activity that will help keep blood glucose levels in the target range.
Steph had a group appointment at the hospital with a Diabetes Educator and a Dietitian where they talked a small group of expecting mums through more detailed recommendations. They talked in more detail about exactly what types of foods we should eat and when, and what should be avoided, says Steph.
A diabetes management plan is personalised for each pregnancy. Steph monitored and recorded her blood glucose levels and food intake for a week before meeting with a specialist who looked at the data and gave her personalised advice on what worked for her body.
What Does It Feel Like To Be Diagnosed With Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes has become the most common type of diabetes in pregnancy diagnosed in Queensland, affecting thousands of pregnant women. Some women are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with GDM and some women may have no known risk factors. Steph didnt have any known factors, so it was a big shock when her doctor told her she had tested positive for GDM.
Steph says,Prior to my diagnosis, I only knew one person who had experienced GDM and she was someone with known risk factors, I just never thought it would affect me too.
I was embarrassed at first and felt guilty about what Id been eating throughout my pregnancy so far. I had morning sickness constantly in the first trimester, and one of the only ways I could make myself feel better was by constantly snacking on all things bread. I was worried that my food choices may have harmed my baby.
For many women, being diagnosed can be distressing and they can sometimes have feelings of guilt or embarrassment. Steph found that by sharing her story with other women it helped to remove her feelings of guilt and lift the stigma associated with GDM.
Steph was surprised to find out how many people she knew had GD. It turns out heaps of my mum friends had GDM even though most of them are fit, healthy, young people, she says. And plenty more people knew someone whod had it. It was great to hear their experiences, find out what foods worked for them and how it affected them and their babies.
Why Is Exercise Important
Your doctor will suggest that you exercise regularly at a level that is safe for you and the baby. Exercise will help keep your blood sugar level normal. It can also make you feel better. Walking is usually the easiest type of exercise when you are pregnant. But swimming or other exercises you enjoy are also beneficial during this time. Ask your doctor to recommend some activities that would be safe for you.
If youre not used to exercising, begin by exercising for 5 or 10 minutes every day. As you get stronger, you can increase your exercise time to 30 minutes or more per session. The longer you exercise and the more often you exercise, the more in control you will be of your blood sugar.
You do need to be careful about how you exercise. Dont exercise too hard or get too hot while exercising. Ask your doctor what activities are safe for you. Depending on your age, your pulse shouldnt go higher than 140 to 160 beats per minute during exercise. If you become dizzy or have back pain or other pain while exercising, stop exercising immediately and call your doctor. If you have uterine contractions , vaginal bleeding, or your water breaks, call your doctor right away.
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How Is It Diagnosed
While most women with gestational diabetes have no obvious symptoms, some experience extreme hunger, thirst, or fatigue. Since these symptoms are also common during typical pregnancies, Dr. Esakoff says it’s essential to get proper screening.
“We have patients who take care of themselves, are in excellent shape, watch their diet, and they still get it,” says Dr. Esakoff. So you should definitely get tested around 24-28 weeks.”
Tests include a 1-hour glucose tolerance test, and if it’s positive, a follow-up 3-hour test to confirm the diagnosis.
Gestational Diabetes And Wellbeing
Some women can feel vulnerable and anxious when theyre pregnant. And finding out you have gestational diabetes might make these feelings worse.
“Theres a lot of shame and misconceptions attached to being a diabetic. I was really upset and in denial for a while. I was worried about the baby. I was also worried if I would be diabetic in future. I was encouraged by my diabetes team to stay active. I made time to do it for myself, for my mental sanity at this difficult time.” Rei
If youre feeling anxious, talk to your care team and ask for support. This support might come from healthcare professionals, voluntary organisations or other services. You can find out more on the NHS website.
Pregnancy can also cause depression in some women. Symptoms may include not wanting to do anything or see anyone, feeling down for long periods of time, not sleeping well or sleeping too much, overeating or not eating enough and feeling bad about yourself.
During pregnancy, your midwife and care team should ask if youve ever had problems with your mental health and whether youre having any now. Dont be afraid to be open and ask for support. Its a hard thing to do, but asking for help and talking about how youre feeling can be really helpful.
Id really recommend newly diagnosed mums speak to other mums with, or whove had, gestational diabetes, if they can. The moral support really helps. Vicky, a journalist from London
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Treatment And Lifestyle Changes
The aim of treatment and lifestyle changes is to keep the mothers blood glucose levels within normal healthy limits.
Blood glucose level self-monitoring This involves checking and recording blood glucose levels four or five times per day to ensure that they stay within their normal range. Post-pregnancy follow-up blood glucose level checks are also important as gestational diabetes increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Diet A high-fibre low-fat diet based on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is recommended to reduce the risk of diabetes. As it is not advisable to lose weight during pregnancy, weight gain goals may be set by a doctor and a meal plan developed by a dietician.
Physical activity Physical activity helps the body to control blood glucose levels. Moderately intense exercise for 30 minutes a day on most days of the week is generally recommended. Walking, cycling, and swimming/water walking are suitable forms of exercise during pregnancy.
Medications Although some women with gestational diabetes can maintain normal blood glucose levels with diet and exercise alone, others will need insulin injections and possibly the addition of an oral diabetes medication . Medication is stopped after delivery of the baby.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
The oral glucose tolerance test is routine for all pregnant women. It is far from definitive, so don’t worry if you get a call that you need to come back for a follow-up test.
When it’s Done: During weeks 24 through 28 of pregnancy, or earlier if you have any risk factors.
How it’s Done: There is little you can do to prepare for this test. During the test, you will drink a sugary beverage containing 50 grams of glucose. Your doctor will draw your blood one hour later to see how efficiently your body processes the glucose. Some women may feel nauseated from the sugary beverage.
What Your Results Mean:If your one-hour plasma glucose level is greater than or equal to 140 milligrams per deciliter of blood some doctors place the cutoff at 130 mg/dLgestational diabetes is suspected and further testing is recommended. If your one-hour plasma glucose level is less than 120 mg/dL, you likely do not have gestational diabetes.
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